Over the wall

They should get rid of the monarchy, said next doors.

There was a demonstration on Sunday in Spain calling for the abolition of the monarchy. Sunday was the anniversary of the Republican government, but pre-Franco and the current monarchy.

Partner agreed about getting rid of them, and said ‘no vale nada’ – not worth anything.

I stayed out of the conversation and dutifully got on with our breakfast (hot garlic chilli fried potatoes – a variation on patatas a la pobre – poor people’s potatoes, appropriate huh?)

People want Rajoy (Spanish right wing prime minister) to call an election, added next doors. Well actually, they asked for that back in February, but that got nowhere.

If you ask me, the Spanish monarchy will remain as is, and Rajoy will stick it out to the end. Preferably sooner rather than later.

At a local level, apparently some young people in the village have lost their houses because they couldn’t keep up with their mortgage payments.

Our village is a mix of old and new. In the old part where we live, virtually all the plots are old family plots and children live at home, get a small house built on the same plot and no-one has a mortgage. But – in the new houses – people need mortgages.

And yet driving back down to Gib on a weekday, there didn’t seem to be a shortage of money as lots of people zapped past us in bright shiny new cars obviously to-ing and fro-ing at work.

Meanwhile, it seems the electrician turned up last week to faff around with the cables to our set of houses. He turned up Sunday evening (!!) to let people know he was coming the next day. Good period of notice there eh?

I sent him a text last week saying when we would be around, got no reply. Great. Next doors told us to ring him. I don’t think so. It cost me a small fortune last time to ring him on roaming so I was stuffed if I was going to ring him again just to be told he wouldn’t turn up. Either he would or he wouldn’t. He didn’t. Do I care about more power in my house? No. Sevillana Endesa will only put up the prices if I have more current.

My darling chickens were pleased to see me. OK, they were pleased to see the fresh food I took in for them and particularly attacked the spinach. I ended up giving them some of the leaves I had intended to take back to Gib.

Jimena (left) and El
Jimena (left) and El

The bean harvest was greater than ever.

You’ll get a basketful there, said José. Well, I would if I had a basket but I chucked them in the Morries bag.

Bags of beans
Bags of beans

They’re long and big though. You might need to stew them, he added.

This is the guy who used to specifically ask the veg man for large broad beans. Now he’s telling me they will be tough.

I figured he didn’t want any so I kept my haul to myself. Nor were they tough, I might add. Aguadulce variety should anyone be interested.

One of the plants had thrown up an interesting flower. I needed to get rid of it, said José. It’s taking the strength from the bean production. Well, probably, but I thought it looked rather nice and forget to chop it down. It’s not as though I was short of beans.

Too pretty to get rid of
Too pretty to get rid of

The end of an era

And the final nail in the coffin?

Flags at half mast at the Governor's residence
Flags at half mast at the Governor’s residence

Well, I thought the funeral was very good. Impeccably carried out with superb military precision. (Thatcher’s funeral in case anyone wonders what I am writing about).

I don’t have TV so hadn’t thought about watching it, but I idly clicked on a BBC link and for once it worked. Normally it doesn’t because Gib doesn’t pay UK TV licences, or some such bollocks. Anyway it did work. So I watched.

As I’ve never watched either a royal wedding or a royal funeral, this was probably the first ceremonial event I’ve seen in my life. Well, apart from trooping of the colour of course.

Some high points and rather lower ones.

The black horses were wonderful. Reminded me of Mary Wesley’s book about Poppy Carew which involves a funeral director with black horses.

The armed forces and Chelsea pensioners were nearly as wonderful. If anyone still hasn’t worked this one out, the reason Thatcher got this flash funeral at state expense and with the queen’s permission, was because of the Falklands.

You only had to look at the coffin bearers, and the significant presence of the Welsh Guards, many of whom were killed in the Falklands. This funeral wasn’t just about Thatcher, it was honouring the men who gave their lives going to war to defend British territory.

Is that really so difficult to understand?

The guardhouse opposite The Convent
The guardhouse opposite The Convent

Let’s add another couple of points. She didn’t want a fly past – she considered it a waste of money, and she didn’t want eulogies at the funeral service.

The family asked for people to give donations to the Royal Hospital Chelsea, rather than placing flowers.

But on with the show. Coffin draped in the union flag, and a beautiful display of white roses on top. Have to agree with that as I had white flowers for the funeral of both my parents (white roses are the symbol of Yorkshire, not that Margaret Thatcher came from Yks).

Excellent procession that set off from the beautiful church of St Clement Danes, and like St Paul’s Cathedral, was designed by Sir Christopher Wren. It’s also the central church of the Royal Air Force.

Muffled drums. Sombre music.

As for St Pauls? Just wonderful. What a venue. And seeing all the faces from the past was amazing. Even Lord Carrington – ha, he would have given away negotiated about the Falklands.

Other guests? Well, sheer disrespect from America (sorry American pals, but it’s true). No-one from the current government. Whatever happened to that so-called special relationship? Special when you need us to back you up in some middle eastern misadventure but not so much so that you can respect a former prime minister who had a very strong US/Anglo relationship.

Kissinger, the Newt and Ross Perot. Perot?!

Australia was represented by John Howard and at least Canada sent their current prime minister, Stephen Harper. No idea whether NZ appeared.

Along with Obama refusing, so did Clinton, and in Germany Merkel snubbed it. Gorbachev and Nancy Reagan sent their apologies due to old age/ill health, which at least is more than can be said for the younger ones who didn’t attend.

The service? Beautiful choice of music. I thought the best bit was the address by the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres. He spoke well.

As for Amanda Thatcher? She also spoke well, with great precision, and was spookily cold. Great achievement at 19 years of age to speak to more than 2000 people in St Paul’s. Captivating? No. Professional? Yes.

Cameron. Yeah, he was ok too.

Oh and the queen was there with Prince Philip. They had cute little thrones placed in the front row. Just amazing.

Anyway, it’s time for people, including me, to leave Baroness Thatcher, of Kesteven, alone. RIP.

Another flag of respect at half mast
Another flag of respect at half mast

And as an aside, apparently I’m sort of neighbours with Mark Thatcher. He wasn’t allowed to stay in Monaco after his permit expired, couldn’t get into Switzerland or the US (due to his conviction for anti-mercenary activities) so he came to Gib and married his second wife here in 2008. Seems he spends most of his time in Marbella. Probably knows Sean Connery.

I looked him up in the Gib ‘phone book, as you do. ‘Hi Mark, sorry to hear about your mum, nice funeral, shame you couldn’t have paid for it though out of your alleged £60 mill – according to the Sunday Times back in 2005.’ Anyway, he wasn’t in the ‘phone book. Parallel lives, different worlds.

In my own little world, we decided to have an evening geocache at a new and extremely local situation. As we got there, we noticed some people hanging around. Hmm, that meant we would have to look inconspicuous and nonchalant until they left. And then we recognised one of them from our geocache meet back in December.

‘Do you want some help?’ he asked as we approached and said hello.

‘No thanks,’ said Partner who likes to do things properly. What a neat cache it was too. It was specifically bought to look like a rock and had a little hole underneath to hide the log sheet. Great fun.

[I did see that the person who found it first (there is some cachet – ha! – to being First to Find) had contacted the cache owner to ask for help. Bit of a scam that if you ask me. First to Find with help isn’t really playing the game. IMO.]

Vault 15 - cache to the left of the brown doors
Vault 15 – cache to the left of the brown doors

However fired up with that achievement, even if he did find it not me, off we went to another one, also just five or ten minutes walk away, which I was allowed to find. I do love these city-based caches that don’t involve staggering up the rock overlooking perilous drops.

The promenade approaching Jumpers Bastion
The promenade approaching Jumpers Bastion

And as they were both hidden in Gibraltar’s defensive walls – Wellington Front and Jumpers, it made a fitting and appropriate historic end to the day.

Sunset looking over the Royal Naval dockyard
Sunset looking over the Royal Naval dockyard
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36 comments on “Over the wall

    • Thank you, it was a gorgeous evening (as was tonight too but I didn’t take a camera).

      So the Americans couldn’t send one single serving member of their current government? And Ronald and Maggie were best mates for a year and a day? And we have poodled into every stupid American-led invasion for oil? Under the guise of anti-terrorism?

      Come on Jo. It’s an insult. Simple as that.

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      • Yes. It’s an insult from the smug immature President and his party. Intended. You know it and we, the average person who can’t do anything about it, knows it. Total embarrassment. Nancy is pretty frail, but she’s not the one who should have been there. (besides the Queen is older – and she made it.)

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        • Thanks Phil Moth. What the UK should do is stand on its own two feet for once instead of hanging on someone else’s coat tails, whether the EU or the USA. There may be an age thing involved, perhaps people who have no remembrance of the 80s don’t know their history?

          I think it was nice to have invited Nancy (respect) but no reason for her to attend, ie flyiing across the Atlantic for a two hour service. After all the queen has a policy of never attending foreign funerals, sends a family representative. The queen didn’t have quite as far to travel. She does have a house in London after all ;)

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    • The world has changed. And continues to do so at a rapid pace. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t retain some old values such as respect at death.

      Can’t say I am impressed with the changing world, but there you go, comes of being old I guess. Thanks for your visit and comment. Appreciated.

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      • Me too. I’m not impressed. The changes are for the worst. Can’t depend on a broke government. People must realize must seek education and improvement. Many people who desire success. Still can find it.

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        • Depends. Many people can’t. My neighbour in Spain hasn’t worked for nearly ten years. He’s about 50 now. I can’t get a job either. I’ve got enough education and qualifications to poke a stick at.

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    • Sedate me? :D

      But yes, isn’t it part of daily life? Death, funerals and all that, life goes on for the rest of us.

      I couldn’t ignore it because it was actually a superbly carried out ceremonial event. I didn’t see a flaw in it – disregarding David Dimbleby’s entertaining error in the commentary. And because we were on streaming watching on the tinties, everything was on slower, and often repeated.

      My chickens, my beans, flags at half mast, a British military dockyard, and – just history. As you realised.

      Don’t want to bore the readers ..

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  1. I used to grow Aquadulce too in France…a really reliable variety.
    What else would you expect from the Americans….and especially that graceless lout Obama.
    I’m always astonished at how little it takes to buy British ministers to keep them with their noses up the arse of U.S. administrations.

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    • I’m glad I didn’t have a drink in my hand – it would have been snorted all over my darling Hal laptop. That was at your reference to Obama and the suckarse Brits, not Aguadulce.

      Anyway, my veganic gardening book recommends aguadulce as a top variety for a couple of seasons so I was delighted to find it in Spain. I’ve got a few seeds (?) left and am thinking about drying a few to compare germination blah blah. I need to put some brassicas in next though.

      So, I’m wondering how your bridges will fare when the lout arrives? …..

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    • I don’t know enough about him. When I was on a feminist forum more of the women seemed to support him before Hillary Clinton. Which surprised me. If you ever write a political post, I’d be interested to read it.

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  2. One of the best posts I have read from you. Well written, wide-ranging and interesting without rambling. I am usually the opposite. I remember Churchill’s funeral and I think a different Dumblebore commentated on that. I am afraid US politics baffles me. The vote on gun control was rejected even when it was so watered down it was just gesture politics. Kissinger I respect but Newt and Ross P???? Insult. Broad beans are far more important. And I’m glad you didn’t uproot the flower. A weed, they say, is just a plant in the wrong place. Or something like that. Just leave it in peace.

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    • Thank you. While my readers (I sound like the queen) are usually pretty generous with their comments and compliments, I’ve been surprised with some of the very nice words I’ve received regarding the Thatcher series. Ironic.

      My multi-theme posts do have a sort of loose common thread. To me anyway, and that hopefully, doesn’t unravel. You can look at it as monarchy and government in present-day Spain compared with the UK, past and present. Or as Maurice said, daily life. Or the impact of policies on people ie losing their homes. Or just history. Life goes on.

      In writing, you don’t always need to state the obvious. If you do, the writing isn’t good enough. I don’t remember Churchill’s at all. An interesting pictorial comparison here:
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/gallery/2013/apr/17/thatcher-churchill-funerals-pictures#/?picture=407392307&index=0
      I thought Churchill’s was 64 but it was 65.
      Was it Richard? The Dumbles always confuse me. Clearly they confuse themselves given the film not hymn. Or even him.

      US politics leaves my head spinning. I have no understanding of it at all. The only thing I have ever boned up on was their anti-terrorist legislation where they added a neat little clause banning all gaming/gambling companies outside the US. I was the world expert on the Safe Port Act four years ago:
      http://wp.me/p22GQH-18

      I could live with Kissinger turning up, but as you say, the other two???? And NO-ONE from the current government? Equally insulting. AFAIR, I think the right-wingers were sent by the Repubs rather than the govt. It could have been meant as an honour!

      The quote about the weed came to mind when I looked at it. I thought it looked rather stylish. Given that the beans have their own little tiny flowers anyway that then produce the pods I was most surprised to see this stunning interloper. Wretched beans are far too productive. I need to get rid of them all and plant some brassicas before it gets too hot for anything.

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  3. Maybe the Americans agreed with the thousands of UK citizens who considered it to be an inappropriate waste of money. You shouldn’t go clinging to that idea that there is a ‘special relationship’ because this only applies when it suits the Americans.
    Surprised you watched it! I symbolically turned my back and made sure the TV was off and later I played golf.
    I thought that generally Spain liked its Royal Family? As I understand it the present King was mostly responsible for dismantling the infrastructure of the Francoist dictatorship although politics in Spain does seem rather complex to me.
    Those beans did look rather tough!

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    • I see you are sick of agreeing with me and are determined to court controversy.

      I think the family/estate could have paid for it. Hardly as though Mark is going to miss 10 mill. I mean what do you do with that sort of money?

      But as I said, she got it for that ‘colonial skirmish’ as you so eloquently described it. Where 255 British men died fighting and who knows how many later from PTSD, plus injuries and disabilities.

      I don’t think I gave any intimation that I’m clinging to the concept of a special relationship or I wouldn’t have described it as ‘so-called’. Britain was stupid to accept the Marshall Plan, at least the Russians had the brains not to. It was nothing but a political (ie anti-comm) and economic (import American goods) strategy. Set the stage for globalisation.

      I see no reason not to watch it. It’s part of history and I may never see anything like it again. There’ll always be another royal wedding or another royal funeral should I ever choose to watch one of those.

      Spain’s royal family’s popularity has crashed recently, especially Juan Carlos after going off on his elephant shooting holi last year in the midst of austerity measures, plus rumours of his infidelity, plus the Infanta Cristina’s husband’s dodgy business deals. I thought JC was OK for getting rid of the Franco structure, but I’ve gone off him too. Elephant shooting isn’t really my thing.

      The beans were NOT tough! They are meant to be long and produce 8-10 beans per pod.

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      • On the basis of the Falklands argument shouldn’t Eden have been entitled to a state funeral for defending British interests in Egypt (ok, only 16 British soldiers killed and our American pals made us withdraw before we could finish the job but hopefully you get my point) and taken to its logical conclusion liar Blair will now have to have one for saving us all from Saddam’s WMD – unless the International War Crimes Commission get him first!

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        • The short answer to that is no. And which part of Egypt was British? Likewise everywhere Blair poodled into after the US? And if IWCC did get to him he would be able to buy them off he’s so ****ing rich. In fact I bet he’s pals with Mark Thatcher :D

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          • But exactly what is British – need to be careful or you might start getting sucked into the quicksand of the essential argument of the debate! We have to be consistent – defend British interests in the Falklands but not in Egypt? And before you tell me that Falkland Islanders are British – only since 1983!

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  4. I love the balance you have – current affairs, politics, opinion and the good life – vege plants, chooks, geocaching expeditions :) The pics, especially Sunset looking over the Royal Naval dockyard, show evidence of the arrival of Spring, and the aguadulce bloom reminds me of an oyster plant bloom which appeal to me as classic old fashioned flowers, so I wouldn’t have cut if off either :)

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    • Thanks ED. At least flitting over a variety of topics gives people a chance to find something they enjoy reading about and skipping the parts they don’t :D Feels more like summer than spring actually. Mind you two evenings geocaching has left me feeling whacked now. Think it’s a day off today, although might go out tomorrow morning on another exped.

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  5. You have beans already! Nice. (And the flower is lovely) Always enjoy your pix of the area and walks. We are able to enjoy being outside right now, but the heat and humidity are looming.
    Ross was there? Now that’s interesting. The US men were not sent by the government – maybe Ross paid/flew his plane over? Baker, I’ve actually met as his son married a friend of mine, – he would want to show respect and come as a friend, I imagine. Shows who the Clintons and Obama’s really are.
    Thought of you yesterday during a story about how many horse ranchers are facing hard decisions with their “Pura Raza Espanola” horses that have been so valuable until poor economic times. Now some may be headed to slaughterhouses with the meat being shipped out of Spain for consumption. You were talking about one horse farm near by.
    Horses make lovely lawn ornaments, but are costly to keep. Many went nuts over Arabian horses here in the 80’s – thought the animals were investments. Patrick Swazie and his wife had a farm not far from where we lived at the time. Then economic crash. We visited one big place ( with heliports on the grounds. If I’d been able to keep a foal, there were some beautiful ones for sale. – my sister-in-law, a vet, had gotten a call to stop by. Would hate to think all those animals were just slaughtered.

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    • I could get sick of beans I have had so many! I am itching to plant brassicas next but the wretched beans keep producing! Must be all that chicken shit I use in the bed. Isn’t the flower delightful? Love it.

      Heat is looming here too, but not yet too bad.

      Apparently Ross was there, AFAIK. There was obviously a difference between so-called govt representation and people representing the Republican Party, for obvious reasons I guess.

      But yes, as you said above in reply to Jo’s and my comments, an insult. Neil Kinnock, former leader of the opposition (Labour), largely under the Thatcher years, was unable to attend due to a previous commitment of the funeral of a former constituent. I think that is reasonable. I doubt someone died specifically to give Kinnock an excuse.

      Clintons and Obamas. Hmm. A bit like our Blair years. High hopes and low results.

      I read so many stories about horse slaughter and the carcasses being transported to Mexico for processing. Heart wrenching. And proposed laws in America to oppose this get nowhere? UH?

      Sadly many see horses as they do dogs. Status symbols. The street dog waves a sleepy paw at Molly.

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      • We actually ended horse slaughter in TX a couple of years ago. Which resulted in horses getting crammed into trucks in 100 temps and run over to MX where the slaughter houses are not regulated and treatment is even ore inhumane in the pens. During the wild fires and droughts, horses were just let lose – rescue leagues were overwhelmed by stray and starving horses. Stupid owners. Despite our efforts, once again slaughterhouses are buying horses. I’ve argued with my sister-in-law, a vet, who thinks it’s fine – she even sold her old horse to on. How could anyone do that, I asked her. Your other horse that died, you buried on property and mourned, but this one you just sell off because it’s old? Don’t get that. My uncles alway “retired'” the cow ponies – and kept them as reward for all their work. Just don’t get how one can be tossed away. Still working this issue. At least Ron Paul, our just retired legislator, actually responded in person to calls and email – so many you can’t get hold of.

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        • There’s always a way around regulation isn’t there? And you can’t legislate for other countries although the EU manages to do a very job of it.

          I think I would not get on with your SiL.

          It’s a bit like knocking my chickens on the head if they stop laying eggs because they are no longer productive and sticking them in the pot. But given that we are vegetarian and the oldest chicken is pretty skinny, it wouldn’t be of any use at all.

          So they eat corn and some fresh veg out of my garden. By having them we also keep up our rights to having a finca (ie for animals) which can be easily lost if they fall into desuetude.

          That’s an impressive achievement from Paul. Others tell me that they don’t get responses if they try to contact Gib ministers.

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